DHS finalizes rule to include SNAP in public charge consideration
The Homeland Security Department published a final rule that will allow it to consider whether a legal immigrant is likely to be reliant on food stamps — formally the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — as well as Medicaid and housing subsidies and therefore to be considered a “public charge” and inadmissible to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Key Democrats and anti-hunger advocates immediately denounced the rule, saying that it marked a dramatic shift in U.S. policy.
DHS is revising its interpretation of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of such benefits, and “to better ensure that aliens subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient, i.e., do not depend on public resources to meet their needs, but rather rely on their own capabilities, as well as the resources of family members, sponsors, and private organizations,” the rule says.
“DHS believes that an alien who uses certain types of public benefits for the more than 12 months within a 36-month period of time can reasonably be said to lack self-sufficiency because her or she cannot meet his or her basic living needs,” the rule continues.
“DHS has limited the type of public benefits to generally means-tested benefits that provide cash for income maintenance or meet the basic living needs of food and nutrition, housing and healthcare. DHS believes that receipt of these public benefits alone for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period suggests a lack of self-sufficiency, as such receipt exceeds what could reasonably be defined as a nominal or temporary need.”
In the rule, DHS acknowledged a range of objections to the rule, which Stephen Miller, a White House adviser to President Donald Trump, has pushed.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, “This nation was, in large part, built by the legal immigrants who arrived on our shores seeking a better life.”
“That’s why maintaining a strong legal immigration system is so important and beneficial: immigrants contribute to our economy by creating jobs and strengthen our communities by giving back. Allowing legal immigrants to make use of the social services and opportunity programs that help Americans get ahead has always been a part of ensuring that immigrants can successfully integrate into our country and benefit our economy in the long run.
“The Trump administration, by seeking to prevent the entry of legal immigrants whom it deems ‘likely’ to use these resources, is trying to shut down the new ideas, new labor, and new entrepreneurship that immigrants bring. This is the wrong action to take.
“We ought to be fixing our broken immigration system so that talented innovators and job-creators can come here and help make our economy and our country stronger. I call on the administration to reverse this counterproductive action, whose only effects will be to harm the integration of legal immigrants, burden states and local communities, and deter great future-Americans from joining us in our grand experiment in democracy and prosperity.”
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